Friday, August 29, 2008

Cloud Computing at top of Hype Cycle

Computerworld reports that Gartner see cloud computing as being at the top of the hype cycle. They have also settled on a definition:

"a style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered 'as a service' to external customers using internet technologies"

Gartner believes that cloud computing will have a "transformational impact" on the enterprise, meaning that the technology will change the way the IT industry "looks at user and vendor relationships,"

NPR on Cloud Computing

You know it's important when NPR covers it !!

On the "All Things Consider" radio show, NPR took a look into cloud computing. I'm not sure if Computing In The Cloud: Who Owns Your Files? is good or bad, but it definitely presents a view shared by many non-technologist.

"Life on the cloud can be wonderful — except when it's not. "

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sun Federal Cloud Computing eBook

Sun Federal now has it's ebook on cloud computing available for all. The website doesn't really offer any new information, but it does highlight how Sun Federal is targeting the government market with it's cloud offering.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Amazon Elastic Block Store

Last week, with their announcement of Elastic Block Store, Amazon has made enterprise class storage in the cloud a reality. According to Dion Hinchcliffe of Ziff Davis,"Elastic Block Store finally makes it practical, cost effective, and relatively easy to put traditional storage and processing of very large amounts of data in the cloud from a credible vendor".
By establishing a businness model for persistent storage in the cloud, is Amazon setting the stage for the demise of the traditional datacenter? What do you think?
Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, outlines his views on his blog.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HP CTO On the Future

In a recent Web Guild article, Shane Robinson, Chief Strategy & Technology Office for HP outilined his belief that we are in the early stages of a major shift. As he sees it, some major trends are;

1) cloud computing and everything as a service
2) quantum leap improvements in user experience
3) search will be done for you and not by you
4) from a static web to an intelligent dynamic web
5) context, relevance and availability of information everywhere
6) everyone will be a publisher and content creator
7) crowd sourcing will be a game changer
8) business intelligence will be real time

Monday, August 25, 2008

Google serves as first line of defense during Russia's invasion of Georgia (A plug for the cloud)

As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, "As Georgian troops retreated to defend their capital from Russian attack, the websites of their government, also under fire, retreated to Google. In an Internet first, Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reopened its site on Google's free Blogger network and gave reporters a Gmail address to reach the National Security Council."

Now that the Russians are apparently pulling out of Georgia, the world is rushing to understand if we're at the front end of a new Cold War. One of the things I focused on was the impact of this on the reality of cloud computing for the DoD.

According to the New York Times, "... the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests — known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers."

Weeks before the "kinetic attack", Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks reported "a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites...". Other Internet technical experts cited this as the first known cyberattack that had coincided with a shooting war.

Assuming that this won't be the last world conflict, this lesson may actually be a good thing for the future of cloud computing.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, "The online attacks forced the website of the president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, to relocate to the United States at Tulip Systems Inc., an Atlanta-based Web-hosting company. Even there it was under continued attack, although it was reachable from a Boston-based computer as of Wednesday [August 13, 2008] afternoon."

If the website was hosted in a globally distributed cloud, how could an adversary even target Georgian government sites with DDOS attack? Distributed defense in the public cloud may be the best thing for DoD.

A timely reference for this would be From Information operations to cyber warfare and a new terrain posted on Selil Blog.

You should also read Kevin Donovan's take on this in his blog.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Apptis and Servervault announce Fedcloud

On August 18th, Apptis announced a partnership with ServerVault to offer a trusted cloud computing environment to federal agencies. Called Fedcloud they are offering a federally compliant, on-demand infrastructure that lets agencies "acquire, utilize, and disengage without contractual dependency (subscription fees, licenses, or long-term commitments)."

Apptis is currently scheduled to present at the October 8th SOA-R event at the Tower Club in Tyson's Corner. Sign-up on the SOA-R registration page if you would like to learn more about this offering.

This certainly marks an important milestone. If these two companies are jumping into the Federal market with cloud solutions, can others be far behind?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

SOA-R Educational Series Schedule Changes

Since launching the SOA-R series back in July, cloud computing has become a hot topic among national security professionals. Evidence of this high level of interest is obvious from the following recent events:
  • The New York Times reported John Garing (CIO DoD) as saying that he is "...convinced that cloud-based IT services will be the future of military data processing." Cloud computing is "going to be the way it has to be," ... "We have to get to this standard environment that is provisionable and scalable." [1]

  • LTG Jeffrey A. Sorenson, Chief Information Officer/G-6, Office of the Secretary of the Army cites Google as a good model and cloud computing as a good direction for the Army. “You can just have your browser on a thin client, tap into that cloud, get your files, get your e-mail, get your content, whatever you need in order to work. So we are clearly looking at leveraging the same type of concept and capabilities that they’re trying to put in the commercial world into what we have in the military in the future.” [2]

  • The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium will be holding a functional team and working group session entitled "Cloud Computing for Netcentric Operations" during their plenary session, 15-19 September where "Industry leaders [will] discuss the possible roles for Cloud Computing in future government computing architectures"[3]

For the SOA-R team, this heightened level of interest has translated into a much more hectic schedule. As a result, the September 11th session has been canceled, limiting the SOA-R schedule to the final two events:

  • “Increased Efficiency and Reduced Cost” to be held October 8th with speakers from 3Tera, Apptis, Gigaspaces and Amazon scheduled; and
  • “Mission Relevance” to be held November 12th.

The final two session will still be held at The Tower Club – Tysons Corner in Vienna, Virginia. The events begin at 9am and end at 2pm. The SOA-R series is co-sponsored by IBM, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, Google, Cisco, and Great Circle Technologies.

Apptis and Servervault announces Fedcloud !!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Comments from Mr. Robert Carey, DON CIO and Army COS General George W. Casey, Jr

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had the distinct pleasure to listen to both Mr. Robert Carey, CIO, Department of the Navy, and General George W. Casey, Jr., Chief of Staff US Army. Some of my observations are summarized below:

Mr. Robert Carey

  • IT connectivity brings stability to the world. The world’s hotspots coincide with places that lack IT connectivity
  • The US is currently in a cyberwar. Cybersecurity is our #1 issue.
  • DON CIO major focus areas include encryption of data at rest, increased information security and increased information reliability
  • The Navy's next generation network will be responsive to the operational commander, unleash the collaborative nature of the Millennium Generation and empower our future warriors.
  • The Navy's next generation network will build on the lessons learned in developing the world's largest intranet, allowing the control and cost visibility necessary to migrate off expensive vulnerable legacy networks.
  • Industry needs to provide Net-Centric Licensing
  • Information sharing initiatives require we move in a direction that allows us to share National Security information with whomever requires access
  • “I’m passionate about Web 2.0 technologies!”

General George W. Casey

  • The US Army is transforming to be able to conduct offensive, defensive and stability operation simultaneously within a sustained conflict environment
  • Advances in technology exacerbate the problem
  • The force will operate abroad
  • Our force will need to work with indigenous forces
  • Military power will need to work closely with all other elements of national power
  • A 21st Century transformed force and its people must be versatile
  • A 21st Century transformed force must be intellectually and institutionally agile
  • The network is central to building the 21st Century force
  • Soldiers will have handheld devices from which they will be able to access the Army’s information
  • The network must be protected
  • A network that collaborates is critical to institutional agility
  • The Army must have the ability to generate world class information technology capabilities in a garrisoned environment and an enhanced ability for people to collaborate
  • Common IT standards must be accepted

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Akamai at SOA-R Session

Had another very enlightening SOA-R session last week. Of particular note to me was Akamai's vision of cloud computing. As presented by Fran Trently, Sr. Director Public Sector, Akamai is already heavily involved in providing cloud services to the DoD. They cite DISA's Global Content Delivery Service (GCDS) as an "on-demand cloud computing architecture on the DISN". Highlighting an August 2008 operational staus, they back their claims with "Dozens of NIPRNet and SIPRNet edge region nodes", "Dozens of web applications and portals across all Service" and type accreditation "with Authority to Operate (ATO) on NIPRNet and SIPRNet".

A summary of their July NIPRNet and SIPRNet statistics is part of Fran's briefing, which is available in the SOA-R wiki.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Six Benefits of Cloud Computing

A Public CIO magazine article, to be published later this fall, will highlight six main benefits of cloud computing.

  • Reduced Cost
  • Increased Storage
  • Highly Automated
  • Flexibility
  • More Mobility
  • Allows IT to Shift Focus

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stateless Computing

A few days ago I read a review of Merrill Lynch's Jeffrey Birnbaum LinuxWorld keynote on stateless computing.

"With stateless computing, users' settings and data are automatically saved to the server, which could be run by their employer or outsourced. Cloud computing generally refers to technology that lets people use Web browsers to access applications running on central servers, though it also can refer to general-purpose server infrastructure that companies can tap into as needed."

This mean that the cloud will continually hold our current computing state, ready to support us via whatever network or device we connect with. It also means that the cloud may need to hold multiple states to match the possible permutations of devices, networks, applications, etc. that we may connect with. All those states would also need to be available for transfer between the multiple public and private clouds that we may use. And don't forget the need to maintain privacy and security for us all.

Whew. Makes my head hurt.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cloud Services

38% of 456 business technology professionals in a Information Week survey indicated that they currently use or will consider using services from a cloud provider. This seems much better
than the earlier report from Infoworld that only 2% of CIOs surveyed see cloud computing as a priority. That survey by Goldman, Sachs & Co of 100 managers with strategic-decision-making authority seemed to pour cold water on cloud computing as a viable industry.

Principal analyst with Pund-IT, Charles King, saw this as a message that CIOs were looking primarily to tested, well-understood technologies. He also said that deployments of "hot-button technologies" like cloud computing may slow down.

Personally, I think Goldman Sachs got it wrong. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Amazon, Elastra and the New Enterprise Data Center

Last week Amazon made an investment into Elastra. Some see this as Amazon's enterprise play. Others see it as move towards the viability of private clouds. I see it as a natural step towards cloud computing as a mainstream datacenter option.

In a whitepaper titled "From Cloud Computing to the New Enterprise Data Center" IBM has positioned cloud computing as precursor to the new enterprise datacenter model.

"The new enterprise data center will be a virtualized, efficiently-managed center, which will
employ some of the tools and techniques adopted by Web-centric clouds, generalized for
adoption by a broader range of customers, and enhanced to support secure transactional
workloads. With this highly efficient and shared infrastructure, the ability for companies to
respond instantaneously to new business needs, to interpret large amounts of information in real
time, and to make sound business decisions based on moment-in-time data becomes possible.
The new enterprise data center is an evolutionary new model to provide a new scale of efficient
and dynamic approach in helping to align IT with business goals."
From another point of view, Gartner analyst Lydia Leong while commentting on Rackspace's recent IPO said that "we expect to see the majority of [corporate] IT infrastructure move into the cloud" over the next two decades.
If all this is true, cloud computing is how enterprises will managed their IT infrastructures. No wonder then that Amazon has made this early bet.
If you're interested in learning more about Amazon's plans, join us at the cloud computing education event on September 11th when Amazon is currently scheduled to present.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Microsoft Midori

Last week word got out that Microsoft's new research project codenamed Midori. According to Information Week "the Midori system is being called Microsoft's first cloud-based OS, and it could one day replace the company's keystone Windows franchise".

According to Reuven Cohen of Enomaly, Microsoft is downplaying any significance of this. Reuven describes this project as an "attempt to address the next logical step in operating systems design where a desktop is no longer centric to a users computing experience".

Is Midori really the end of Windows?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dell Trademarking Cloud Computing

There has been quite a bit of chatter lately over Dell's attempt to patent "cloud computing". Last week, the US Patent and Trade Office put an end to those aspirations by "adjourning" their claim. What's really interesting to me is the fact the NetCentric Corporation first filed for the trademark in 1998 to provide "carrier-class internet fax technology".

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rob Enderle Cautions on Cloud Computing

Words of caution from Rob Enderle in "The Real Truth and Technology and IT":

"The key to success in the cloud will be keeping solutions simple, plus understanding and mitigating the related risks (with the understanding part being the most difficult at the moment). The axiom “prospectors catch the arrows, settlers get the land” applies here and while I too believe cloud computing represents the likely future, it may take a decade for most of the problems to be worked out to a degree where cloud computing can be the reliable service that it promises to be for the wide variety of applications and services that will reside there."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

3 Important Point for Federal Government Cloud Computing

Point 1: In May, Verizon and AT&T were awarded a DHS task order for just under $1B to provide telecommunications services to the department. Verizon won the lead provider’s spot and a lion’s share of the contract: $678.5 million over 10 years. (See Verizon Nabs Networx Deal and AT&T Wins DHS Deal.)

Point 2: AT&T has entered the cloud computing market with the worldwide launch of a service called AT&T Synaptic Hosting. This follows Verizon's cloud-computing service anouncement in June. That service is set to launch in early 2009.

Point 3: According to Federal Computer Week, GSA released the Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) Statement of Work to Networx vendors on July 17, 2008. According to INPUT:

"The General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS), in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), may have a requirement for aid in the implementation of Trusted Internet Connections (TIC)."

Award is scheduled in November.

A Cloud Methodology

Although this was published in June, I just saw it and felt it was to good not to repeat:

A Methodology for Cloud Computing Architecture

  • Peel off the applications individually, to detangle the appliance mess (use case analysis).
    Categorize applications as batch, online, heavy transactional, or reporting – where the former two indicate likely cloud apps.
  • Think of cloud computing as a way to load balance your application demands across different grids of available resources.
  • Slide the clouds across different grids depending on costs, scheduling needs, or failover capacity.
  • Take the hit to replicate critical data across different grids, to have it ready for a cutover within minutes; that's less expensive than buying insurance.
  • Run your own multiple data centers as internal grids, but have additional grid resources ready for handling elastic demands (which you already have, in quantity).
  • Reassure your DBAs and sysadmins that their roles are not diminished due to cloud computing, and instead become more interesting – with hopefully a few major headaches resolved.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

IBM Invests Nearly $400M on Cloud Computing Centers

In a press release last week, IBM says that it will spend $360 million to build its most sophisticated, state-of-the-art data center at its facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina. IBM will also build a new cloud computing center in Tokyo, Japan that will provide large enterprise customers, universities and government agencies immediate access to experts who can help them deploy cloud computing environments.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cloud Computing and the NCOIC

According to their website, The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) has scheduled a session on cloud computing at their upcoming plenary session in September. In case you haven't heard of the NCOIC, they are a industry consortium that works in tandem with customers from around the world to provide a set of tools that enable the development of network centric capabilities and products.

"The NCOIC was formed to support those who design and deliver systems for warriors, first-responders, and others as they seek to maximize information age capabilities. The NCOIC's products will continuously enhance systems and services' interoperability and operational resilience, and will reduce the cost of developing new capabilities, even as they become more prolific. For the procuring agencies, this will result in lower integration and administrative costs in the deployment of distributed systems that can interoperate easily, cost effectively and securely."

Their session, titled "Cloud Computing for Net Centric Operations" will be held on Wednesday, September 17th, from 7am - 1 pm. At the Westin Tysons Corner,7801 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043. According to the description, industry leaders will discuss the possible roles for Cloud Computing in future government computing architectures.

SOA-R is proud to have helped the NCOIC set up this important industry event.

You can make reservations to attend the plenary session through

Monday, August 4, 2008

Virtual Machines in Virtual Networks

One of the key value propositions in cloud computing is built around increase efficiencies. These eficiencies are diven by the use of virtual machines (VMware, XEN, etc.) and the automated provisioning of these machines. While recent discussions in the Google Cloud Computing Group about VMware have levied this requirement onto the cloud providers (Amazon, Rackspace,etc.), I began to wonder how this would be addressed in a private or enterprise cloud implementation.

With Colin McNamara highlighting the many issues with integrating VMware into Cisco networks and Scott Lowe's blog headline about Cisco Switches on VMware, a replicable solution to the automated provisioning of virtual machines for enterprise/private cloud implementations may be in the works.

In view of Cisco's broad customer base in the national security space, I personally see this as a key capability for DoD/DHS cloud computing implementations. What do you think? In any case, come to the next SOA-R event and ask Cisco yourself.

Friday, August 1, 2008

SOA-R Interest Grows

Interest continue to grow in the use of cloud computing concepts for national security missions. Although some view the idea of a "private cloud" as an oxymoron, I personally see no better way of describing what organizations like the DoD and DHS are doing. Maybe "enterprise cloud" would be a better term. What do you think?

In any case the first SOA-R event drew participation from across the industry and Government market space. Presenters included representatives from Google, IBM, Appistry, and Parabon. Attendees included representatives from The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Juniper Networks, SAIC, and many more. The event created the venue for an open forum, cross-industry discussion regarding cloud computing, SOA, and adoption and implementation by federal government and Department of Defense users. The focus of the event centered on defining cloud computing and what it means to government customers. The second event will be held on August 13th and will focus on Global Information Access. Speakers from Cisco, Appirio, and Akamai have been confirmed.

Cisco appears to be jumping into cloud computing "big time"!! I understand from some of my discussions that they have focused in on solving all the network security and provisioning issues around the use of virtual machines. This would address many of the concerns agencies now have with cloud computing. They also demonstrate the ability to assure access to the cloud in their video on radio aware routing. You will recognize Appirio's name from one of my earlier posts. Their expertise is in connecting various clouds together. Akamai is also a strong cloud computing proponent. They are arguably one of the largest information providers in the world.

Membership in the SOA-R wiki also continues to grows. Recently added documents include ACT-IAC's "Toward a Service Driven IT Infrastructure" and Gartner's "Cloud Computing Meets Data Center Realities"